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RamView: Week 8 – Coaching

Pat Shurmur’s offense today didn’t resemble a fish bowl as much as it did a watering trough. The Rams came out apparently afraid to throw anything farther than two yards downfield. Instead of a vertical passing game, this was a horizontal passing game, filled with quick outs, screens, hitches and smoke routes. What did it get them? The Rams controlled the ball for 11 minutes of the 1st quarter and didn’t score. The two-yard offense seemed to have done its job, though. Shurmur mixed in some no-huddle, and had Bradford start going downfield more in the 2nd quarter. It took until the 4th, though, for the Rams to really go on the attack, which Bradford did with the 33-yard completion to Gibson and the TD pass to Fells. The best call of the day was probably the handoff to Jackson for 14 in the 2nd, coming as it did off a fake end-around to Amendola. Sweet to fake the end-around that faked Tampa out last week; nice game-to-game play calling by Shurmur there. If it was called vs. audibled, props for the pass call on Amendola’s TD, too. All of section 414 was expecting a run there on 3rd-and-goal. Shurmur’s objective seemed to be to pull Carolina’s DBs in early to get his receivers room downfield later on, which worked if all my guessing here was right. That seems to risk really shutting down the whole offense, though. I’m not sure how many other teams that would have worked against.

On defense, the Ram players outsmarted the Panther coaches as much as anything. Nobody bit on the flea-flicker on their first play that turned into a Laurinaitis interception. An end-around ran smack into an Atogwe blitz later in the 1st, and Long stayed home and finished off the play for a huge loss. Whether through blitzing or 4-man rush, Flajole kept heat on Matt Moore just about all game. Flajole got a win late in the 1st half by faking out… the wide receiver. Moore threw deep for Brandon LaFell with the Rams faking a blitz, but LaFell bought the gambit, cut his route short, and the ball landed harmlessly in the end zone. The biggest twist I noticed in the defensive plan this week was Flajole’s willingness to rush DB’s from deep in the secondary, and it paid off a couple of times, with Atogwe blowing up the reverse and getting a sack later in the game. Effective job by Flajole of saving something new for the opponent.

Steve Spagnuolo continues to show he’s got this team in the right frame of mind. Given the nature of last week’s road loss, it would have been easy for the Rams to come out flat today, but they didn’t. Given the way they seemed to blow off Detroit, it would have been easy for them to overlook the Panthers, but they didn’t. I don’t think today’s game turned on any single coaching decision, but it was clear that the players had been prepared well, and they executed well. Hard to lose when you’ve got that going for you, which gave Spagnuolo the coaching win today.

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One Response to “RamView: Week 8 – Coaching”

  1. Raul says:

    I don’t get the criticism of the short passing game. If you throw a four yard pass, that leaves you with a second and six or third and six and a much better chance to get a first down. If you chunk it downfield and don’t connect you’re looking at 2nd or 3rd and 10 and a likely three and out. Keeping the chains moving is the name of the game. It’s frustrating to keep the ball eleven minutes without scoring, but it’s frustrating for the other team too, because they can’t score either. Having a vertical passing game requires one of two things, receivers with the speed and talent to get open downfield, or a good horizontal game that frustrates the defense to the point they start overplaying the short routes which opens things up downfield. Guess which option is open to the Rams? I think the short game is exactly what the Rams need to do given their personnel. It worked great against the Chargers and Panthers. Getting impatient and trying to go deep led to a number of three-and-outs against Tampa Bay.

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